Partnership Sends Maple Tubing to Be Recycled
Johnson, VT - The Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District (LRSWMD) has been collecting old sap line for recycling for about four years. In that time, about 5 cubic yards of old sap line has been collected. This year, everything changed. A trio of partners came together to collect twenty times that amount of sap line in just five months!
The LRSWMD was contacted in February by a representative from the Stowe Mountain Resort/Vail Resorts Epic Promise Volunteer Program to see if there were any LRSWMD projects that could use volunteer help. At that time, the LRSWMD did not have an immediate need for volunteers but agreed to think about how the LRSWMD and Epic Promise volunteer program could work together in the future.
Shortly thereafter, Mark Isselhardt, UVM Extension Maple Specialist walked down the hallway of the Agricultural Building to see if the LRSWMD had a maple tubing recycling program. According to Isselhardt, “Aging tubing is harder to maintain and achieve high sap yields. For this reason, maple producers generally replace their tubing between 10-15 years.” The maple industry in Vermont yields about $15 million in direct sales each year. There are approximately 450,000 taps in Lamoille County that produced just under 200,000 gallons of syrup in 2017 using an estimated 3 million feet of tubing. That’s a lot of tubing to keep out of the landfill and send to be recycled into new plastic products!
The LRSWMD does offer a year-round maple tubing collection program. Fittings and taps must be removed and the tubing needs to be cut to 3-foot lengths in order to be accepted at a cost of $10 per cubic yard. These are pretty labor-intensive requirements which is likely why such a small amount has been collected across the duration of the program.
A request from the maple community, a service provided by the LRSWMD and a request from a local volunteer group all aligned to offer a much more appealing way for sugarers to get that old maple tubing out of the woods. “We reach out to the community to see where we can be of assistance volunteering. This project seemed like a wonderful fit being able to recycle maple sugaring tubing and we said, ‘Heck yeah, we’re on board.’” stated Jeff Wise of Stowe Mountain Resort/Vail Resorts Director of Communications.
The team of LRSWMD and UVM staff and Epic Volunteers spent a day removing all the fittings and taps and cut the tubing into small lengths, saving time, labor and money for the sugar producers. Over 100 cubic yards was brought in by local producers which is enough to fill a 50-foot tractor trailer. The tubing collected at the LRSWMD was sent to two plastic processors, one in Vermont and one in Arkansas. These companies will grind the tubing into tiny particles and sell it to manufactures who will make it into plastic bottles, ropes, reusable shopping bags, carpet and many other plastic items.
Elly Ventura, LRSWMD Outreach Manager says “It was really exciting to have the opportunity to come together and make it easier and more convenient for our sugar producers to responsibly manage this material. It’s important to keep this resource out of Vermont’s one remaining landfill. We absolutely would not have been able to offer this program without the partnership with UVM and Epic Promise.”
If these partners did not connect, it’s likely that this material would have gone to Vermont’s only remaining landfill or may have even been left in the woods, uncollected. The LRSWMD will continue to accept old tubing in the future and explore methods on how to make the disposal process more lucrative for sugarers.
The mission of the LRSWMD is to reduce the quantity and toxicity of the amount of trash being generated and sent to the landfill while maintaining or improving overall environmental quality (air, water, and soil), treating customers and employees with respect, and operating within a balanced budget. District member towns include: Belvidere, Cambridge, Craftsbury, Eden, Elmore, Hyde Park, Johnson, Morristown, Stowe, Waterville, Wolcott, and Worcester. Contact the LRSWMD office at 802.888.7317 or visit us at www.lrswmd.org for more information.
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The mission of the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District is to reduce the quantity and toxicity of the trash generated and going to the landfill while maintaining or improving overall environmental quality (air, water, and soil), treating customers and employees with respect and operating within a balanced budget.
As a non-profit 501(c)1 organization, we can offer a variety of services to help you better manage your materials:
- Free technical assistance to all residents, institutions, and businesses for compliance with Act 148, Vermont's Universal Recycling & Composting law
- Volunteer Lamoille Waste Warrior Program
- Household Hazardous Waste Collections
- Free Programs for Schools customized to meet the uniqueness of your school and classrooms
- Free Waste Management Presentations and Activities
- Sustainable Solutions Program for Businesses to comply with Act 148
- Composting and Recycling Bins for sale at subsidized prices
- Operation of Transfer Stations for cost-effective and convenient drop-off options
- Big Bottle Recycler and Recycling Containers for use at special events
- Materials management planning for large scale events
- Food Scrap processing at Lamoille Soil